Mercer fired Bob Hoffman on Monday – and it was a really, really dumb move. I guess they fired him because the team went 11-20 this season, and there is no doubt that was his worst season in 11 years at Mercer. But there’s more to a coach than just one season, and that’s where Mercer missed the boat. Now I may not be the biggest college basketball fan in the world, but I admit I am a big Bob Hoffman fan. I’m a fan because for the last 11 years, Hoffman has made Mercer men’s basketball relevant in middle Georgia. When he came to Macon in 2008, no one really cared about the Mercer Bears. Bob Hoffman made people care. He invited people to go to the games and asked for patience. He then started to accumulate talent, and in a three year stretch Hoffman’s Bears went 78 and 31. They won the CIT postseason tournament in 2012. The beat Tennessee in a NIT game in 2013. And then five years ago, Mercer beat Duke. Now, that should not have necessarily given Hoffman a lifetime contract, but we’ll see if any other Mercer coach will ever beat Duke. Mercer beat Duke in 2014 because of the foundation that had been built by Bob Hoffman. He not only attracted talent to come play for him, he attracted non-Mercer grads to become interested in the program. He got regular people who may have just wanted something to do to go watch Mercer basketball. He did it by… inviting them. He would put out signs all over Macon reminding people about the games. He went on my radio show. He went on this newscast. He went to talk with civic groups and would promote Mercer basketball any chance he got. He built a program, and he also made a difference in the young people he coached at Mercer. – Do you know that in the 11 years Hoffman was at Mercer, his program was the most successful Division one basketball team in this state – by 10 wins? This is the same program that used to play in Porter Gym – a dump and an embarrassment. The unbelievable part of this whole story is the lame press release Mercer had on Monday announcing Hoffman’s dismissal. It didn’t talk about how successful Hoffman had been. It didn’t applaud what he had done. It didn’t include his records, probably because it would have looked dumb that they had just fired the man. But the worst part of it all was that Bill Underwood, Mercer’s president, did not even have the decency to thank Bob Hoffman. Of course, Underwood probably thinks he’s the reason for the program’s success. He’s probably got the final score of the Duke win tattooed somewhere on his body. But how bush league can you get? Okay, it’s your choice to fire the man. But you can’t even thank him? You can’t even say that Bob Hoffman made this program relevant? No, Underwood couldn’t do that because it would have made the fact he had just fired the man sound even more stupid. And it was stupid. Sure, they were bad this year, but you do know they lost all five of their starters from last year, right Underwood? No one expected much, but Underwood wasn’t satisfied with this program being the best in the state. Instead, he got greedy and again – it was his call to fire Hoffman. But he couldn’t even thank him for what he did for the last 11 years? Unbelievable. This community will miss Bob Hoffman. He became part of Middle Georgia and wasn’t just some coach coming through town on his way to a bigger job. And now, he’ll be gone. Truthfully, considering those he worked for and how he was treated by them walking out the door, Bob Hoffman may be the lucky one.